January Cleanup To Jump-Start The New Year

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The holidays are over. For most of us, the high energy, non-stop activity of the season has slowed and left us with time to puzzle over a thing or two:

• How long can you display your Christmas tree?

If you adhere to tradition, your tree should come down after Epiphany on Jan. 6 — the day that the Wise Men arrived in Bethlehem.

More practically, however, you should follow the guidelines for safety: natural trees dry out even with constant watering, and they increase the risk for house fires. If the needles break instead of bend to your touch you have a torch, not a tree.

In Payson, you have until Feb. 1 to take your tree to the Event Center for recycling. It should be free of decorations.

• Are your lights always a tangle? Are a few broken ornaments at the bottom of the box the price you pay for a quick and easy tree tear-down?

Resolve to be organized this year and invest in sturdy ornament containers: plastic or cardboard boxes with individual compartments designed to store delicate ornaments safely. These boxes also make your decorations more visible so they’ll be easier to hang next year.

Keep your ornaments safe on the cheap by double wrapping them with the plastic grocery bags we accumulate and using the bags wadded up as a cushion on the bottom of a box and on top of the contents.

You can buy organizers for your strings of lights, or you can make your own by using a square of heavy-duty cardboard.

1. Make slits in the cardboard about half an inch deep and about an inch apart.

2. Wind the lights around the cardboard, using the slits to hold the cord in place.

3. Use masking tape to affix the plug to the cardboard.

If those pinecone-shaped candles were too pretty to burn, make sure they’ll be in good shape for next year’s decorating. Don’t store candles in the attic or near a heat source — they can warp or melt. Generally, all of your holiday items should be stored in a cool, dry place.

• Gingerbread houses and dough ornaments should be sprayed with shellac or other preservative and wrapped carefully.

• Popcorn garlands can be removed from the Christmas tree and strung outdoors for the enjoyment of birds and squirrels.

Post-holiday blues

After all of the excitement of the holiday season, January can seem dull by comparison. You don’t need to strip the house bare of decoration: evergreen branches, pinecones and citrus fruits make lovely seasonal centerpieces, while snowmen can add a little winter cheer. Wreaths can stay up through January, if they haven’t started to turn brown.

You can also recycle your wreath in some cases, especially its artificial parts.

With a wreath base decked with imitation red berries you can add some of the generic red decorations from Christmas and a little white ribbon and have a Valentine’s wreath.

Using a wreath base, either the foam kind or one made of dried vines, you can wrap it with wide green ribbon and accent it with the green generic pieces from holiday décor for St. Patrick’s Day.

Be ruthless

If you didn’t eat that pretty ribbon candy this year, it’s not going to get any better during storage. Discard torn wrapping paper, frayed ribbon, and bows or other decorations that have seen a little too much wear. It’s also a good time to examine your lights and other outdoor decorations: they may need to be replaced next year.

Be prepared

If you’re still full of holiday spirit, hit the stores. It’s the best time to buy ornaments, tree skirts, stockings, wrapping paper and holiday cards for next year, as retailers will be offering deep discounts.

You can keep a holiday “frame of mind” with purchases of extra strings of lights in a single shade:

• Clear lights can stay up throughout the year as a nice, decorative touch on railings, shrubs, porch posts, etc.

• Sets of red lights can be added to the clear for Valentine’s Day in February.

• Get some green lights and string them around the outside of your home for St. Patrick’s Day.

• Use sets of blue lights with the red and clear for the patriotic days ahead: Presidents Day is Feb. 16 this year and then there are: Armed Forces Day on May 16, followed closely by Memorial Day, May 25, the Fourth of July, etc.

Once most of the holiday trimmings are safely tucked away, it might be a good time to give some thought to a couple of common New Year’s resolutions: getting healthy and saving money. Using material provided by Taste of Home magazine and its Web site allrecipes.com and Metro Creative Services we are bringing you some tips about health and home economies for the new year in this edition of The Rim Review.

(Localized content by Teresa McQuerrey, editor, Rim Review)

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